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back to article MPs back call to boycott low-taxed tat from Amazon over Xmas

Eight MPs are backing a call in Blighty for Christmas shoppers to boycott the convenience haven of Amazon after its aggressive tax avoidance regime in the country. Ethical Consumer magazine has launched a campaign to get people to stop using the mega-etailer over the holidays and politicians including Margaret Hodge, chair of …

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Do what we want, not what we say

Instead of wringing their hands and bemoaning the evils of business, perhaps the honourable members of parliament could sort out the tax rules they make? Or is that too much like real work?

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Re: Do what we want, not what we say

If the MP's sort the tax rules out then a number of things will happen.

The big companies who have been giving them back handers to keep the current system in place will have them shot.

Their own companies will have to start paying tax (looking at you here Hodge)

Never going to happen as long as our politicians are allowed to be directors and own stocks n shares

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Re: Do what we want, not what we say

What, Enver Hodge sort out the legislation that allows her family firm to pay a minuscule amount of tax, when she could be spending her time grandstanding on national media? Fat chance!

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Re: Do what we want, not what we say

Well, first off when the gov stop raping us bare with income tax etc so we can actually afford to make not having to take the cheapest option viable then I'll think about it.

Secondly get your own house in order first and stop awarding large (mostly IT) contracts to large multinational companies that also pay no fucking tax. And then, and only then will I listen to things like this.

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Re: Do what we want, not what we say

Not even the MPs can stand up to the corporations. The corporations are too big and have gone global they are always up to new tricks. Tesco keeps sending small vans up my street in a suspicious manner. They drive up and down our road as if they own it but there's no store for miles. I think they are scanning our houses. I have placed a number of heavy blankets over my wifi router so they can't read it from the road.

I have no doubt this confuses tesco and whips them into a mad rage, which is probably why they send more vans. One of the neighbours is in on it too because I often see the vans stop outside their house and drop off suspicious items in bags, possibly parts for a giant listening device that they are constructing in their house which will eventually be capable of piercing through my wifi defenses.

I don't think they know that I am on to them. I will keep you posted.

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Re: Do what we want, not what we say

@Jugernautilus , yes they should and until they do how about you and your mates stop cleaning out the posterior of Amazon and encourage them to treating paying tax as a vital part of being a member of this society!

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Re: Do what we want, not what we say

That tax goes to pay for NHS, Defence etc so suck it up!

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They're way ahead of you (briefly nsfw):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfSi0D7KESk&sns=em

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do what we want, not what we say

It might be better if the HMRC had some staff who have a clue what they were supposed to be doing. Today's conversation, "The HMRC cannot progress this matter because they are waiting for the information they have had for at least ten days they have had from the company who were paying the income." It was also sent in by me six weeks earlier, on the day asked for it, but they have not yet opened the letter, well done.

This was after the clerk accused me of calling the wrong number; the number on the letter that some fool had sent out twice. It was the right number, the clerk had not been correctly trained to deal with calls. No wonder companies are not paying the tax others would like them to pay.

Having said that, the fact that Hodge's suggestion is made for party political grandstanding reasons is the best reason to continue to trade WITH Amazon!

On the other hand, training the staff, giving them the tools and some understandable rules and processes would be a good idea.

Does anyone know why the so called self assessment 'system' needs to be kissed by Santa, before it can start dealing with last financial year's accounts whenever they are filed?

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WTF?

Re: Do what we want, not what we say

I would 'suck it up' if I wasn't paying tax on everything.

Get paid by work - it's taxed.

Put money into my savings account - it's taxed

Buy something at the shop - it's taxed

Order something online - it's taxed

Pay my bills - they are taxed

And my MP? Well, they are in various tax avoidance schemes and have expense funds to handle all that.

Something is very wrong somewhere.

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Re: HollyHopDrive, Just a geek etc

Moan moan moan, life's so hard in my comfortable first world country with free health care, education, social care, state pensions, security, policing, safety nets etc. I wish I was a bit richer (but still had all that free stuff).

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Thumb Down

"Contributions. We are looking for Contributions."

Pfff... ridiculous, missing the point and ignoring the Yellowstone-sized debt vulcano about to blow

"free health care, education, social care, state pensions, security, policing, safety nets etc"

None of these work - and they are only "free" for people of the same retardative class who think minimum wages help "the poor".

Additionally, apparently it is now a duty to look for expensive, properly taxed stuff so that [random brueaucrat] can properly redistributed my income to whomever is his croniest.

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Mushroom

Re: Do what we want, not what we say

Indeed if only they had been in power 10 years ago when all this wholesale tax avoidance really took off they could have nipped it in the bud. Instead of waiting until the bust they fuelled and watching every large UK based tax paying firm fold because their competitors didn't pay VAT or Corporation tax or if Bodyshopping income tax or NI.

I mean the workers party allowing wholesale sale of the Tax offices to a tax haven or sending out search parties to get cheap workers to gerrymander would be unthinkable.

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Meh

Re: Do what we want, not what we say

They'll stop bleating about Amazon when Amazon makes enough party donations, then they'll move onto another company.

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Re: Do what we want, not what we say

Haha, yea and of course all of these things are being run efficiently without waste. If they were then the tax bill could be cut by billions and hence income tax reduced as there would be less to pay for. If 90% of the money we paid went to the police (and they stopped spending too much time enforcing stupid laws), fire service, NHS and defence then I wouldn't have a problem, but it doesn't, vast amounts go on nonsense projects and unneeded services and red tape. Cut all that out completely and only pay for the core services and at a much more efficient running level and I would happily pay the remaining cost, but as it is right now if my company is ever a success or I earn too much money as an employee I will be moving myself out of here.

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Re: HollyHopDrive, Just a geek etc

Haha, no actually I don't wish we had all the free stuff, I wish I wasn't paying for everyone else to have the free stuff. I'd happily pay for my own stuff.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do what we want, not what we say

Ahhh the shrillness of the Commoners in the House is rising again. Tis the season…

But, as you so eloquently point out, they'd rather go whaa-whaa than actually doing something about it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do what we want, not what we say

The tax laws are international. Just like climate change targets you don't change just your own country's rates and laws as it results in no change at all.

How on earth can you force a global business to pay taxes in your country?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do what we want, not what we say

You tax their receipts not their profits.

Note that I'm not saying I think you *should* (I don't), just that you *could*.

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Re: Do what we want, not what we say

Well said - saved me writing it

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Mushroom

Instead of putting the onus onto us

Why don'y THEY do THEIR job and get this sorted out so that Amazon (and all the others) CAN'T avoid paying the tax they should be due.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Instead of putting the onus onto us

Probably because tax law is fantastically complicated. They actively change law to close loop holes all the time, but the "tax efficiency" consultants have a whole load of avoidance schemes lined up to take their place.

Add that to the rampant abuse of legitimate and required schemes to move money around in international companies and it can become practically impossible to make a company pay fair tax if they don't want to. One scheme in particular paying a license fee for branding etc going to the parent company and being tax deductable, this is perfectly legitimate but widely abused by companies like Starbucks who pay close to 100% to their parent company, neatly avoiding any tax.

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Re: Instead of putting the onus onto us

"Why don'y THEY do THEIR job and get this sorted out so that Amazon (and all the others) CAN'T avoid paying the tax they should be due."

But Dave Cameron and Claire Perry have been doing their job to get this sorted out. Once the filter is up and running, all it'll need is a bit of feature creep, and instead of "MPs back call to boycott low-taxed tat from Amazon" the headline could be "MPs back call to enforced boycott on low-taxed tat from Amazon".

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FAIL

So, According to our lords and masters we should boycott amazon because they use the law and tax loopholes to avoid tax?

Well, you know who else use the same loopholes? MP's.

So lets compare the two.

I can order goods from Amazon which arrive, normally on schedule. If something goes wrong I can speak to someone and they'll replace the goods with no fuss or argument. They also provide things like AWS.

My MP - A tax scrounging, expense stealing parasite that I am banned from speaking to.

Which one would I rather see avoid tax? Neither of them but for service Amazon wins out, therefore this bunch of MP's can go screw themselves rather than the electorate.

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Anonymous Coward

Let me guess judging by your recent posts - You are banned from speaking to your MP because you can't speak civilly to someone?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Which one would I rather see avoid tax? [Amazon]

Hmm. It seems to me that the UK would benefit more (monetarily) from efficient tax collection from Amazon than it would from MPs. And fixing "Amazon taxability" would work on other similar companies, and bring in more money for the UK budget.

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JDX
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Your MP routes their VAT through Luxembourg?

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Good Luck with that

Persuade people drive to their local town, drive round for ages looking for a parking space, battle through the crowds, placate their bored kids with a crappy meal from any number of foreign owned, tax avoiding food concessions and queue for hours in crowded stores that may or may not have what you want in stock. If they do it will cost nearly half as much as it does on the internet.

Alternatively - Buy it now - delivered to you door 2-5 working days later. All from the comfort of your armchair.

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Re: Good Luck with that

I think the guys are suggesting you use other websites that are not Amazon, honourable though the intention may be, money is tight, Amazon is cheap, so why pay £25 for something on one site when it's £20 on Amazon, we're not all MP's with a huge allowance and backhanders.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: why pay £25 for something on one site when it's £20 on Amazon?

True, but I'm happy to pay (eg) £22 for some book(s) at Waterstones (web or not) instead of £20 Amazon, since with W (or any such company with a physical presence) I will probably get to talk to a real person if there's a problem. That's my preference, yours may differ.

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Re: Good Luck with that

Quite, at least Amazon use the tax avoidance to make things cheaper, unlike starbucks that didn't pay tax but still charged the same. They are also the path of least resistance, since the many alternatives will involve me shopping at multiple places rather than a single source. Amazon are also fairly trustworthy and have always made it easy to return crap that didn't work/wasn't as advertised, who knows what the alternatives will do? As for screwing local shops, aren't quite a lot of the products on amazon actually third parties anyway, usually someones local shop.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good Luck with that

I've only bought one thing from Amazon, as things are always (a part from once) cheaper elsewhere. I suggest you phrase your searches in a more effective way.

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Go

Agree with most comments here...

I agree with most comments here about the need for the politicians to close the loopholes rather then whinging about the situation, but I gotta admit £2,4 million tax paid on £4,3 billion in sales is taking the biscuit just a bit...

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Re: Agree with most comments here...

> I gotta admit £2,4 million tax paid on £4,3 billion in sales is taking the biscuit

Yes, but what's a few billion in uncollected taxes when compared with the opportunity for some political grandstanding?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Agree with most comments here...

Well, if you whinge about the hypocrisy and/or failings of the politicians hard enough, you get to forget about the issue actually being raised by the article. But being annoyed by the behaviour of politicians doesn't mean you can't choose to spend your money differently - and while the effect of Your such decisions may be negligible to Amazon, they don't need to be negligible compared to what You can actually do. That is, at least, better than nothing.

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Re: Agree with most comments here...

You do realise that Corporation Tax is levied on profit, not turnover? And that Amazon pays HMRC hundreds of millions in VAT, Employer's NI, Business Rates, etc.

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Re: Agree with most comments here...

The tax campaigners are pouring a hell of a lot of effort into persuading the public that tax is paid on turnover, and, sadly, it appears to be working.

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Re: Agree with most comments here...

Sorry, Amazon does not pay the UK Govt any VAT whatsoever, that money is paid by consumers as a tax on all goods that they choose to procure from Amazon. Amazon are actually the collector of VAT not the payer. In fact Amazon get to offset the VAT they pay for goods and services against the VAT the collect so they don't even handover all the VAT that consumers pay them for the goods.

I think that if you went through Amazon's books that you would also find that Amazon are in receipt of various waivers of business taxes and capital allowances in relation to their various depots. In fact the article point out the subsidy paid to them in respect of at least one of their warehouses in Scotland and they also received monies when they set up their site in Swansea so they are highly likely to be a net beneficiary of business taxes rather than a payer.

Finally the turnover is not the correct value to look at but the actual profit. However, due to the high interest rates that Amazon SARL charges Amazon EU et al the profits are skewed. That said if you assume a net margin of between 3% & 5% (not unreasonable in their business) then their profit should have been in the range £90m to £200m on their turnover which should have resulted in taxes somewhere between £25m - £60m against the 2£2.5m they paid.

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Re: Agree with most comments here...

As far as VAT is concerned, they simply collect it - the customer pays it. Same with income tax - the employee pays it, but PAYE cuts out the middle man. Don't fall for their PR BS. Business rates and employer's NI I'll let you have.

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Re: Agree with most comments here...

I do realise that Corporation Tax is levied on profit, not turnover, but Amazon would have us believe that all their economic activity in the UK actually happens in some 2 person Luxembourgian office.

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"some 2 person Luxembourgian office"

Yeah, but that's part of the Maastricht Agreement: a company may choose to run all its EU operations from the member state of its choice. One of the things that pisses me off about all this fuss is the huge overlap between people who are angry at companies who use the Maastricht Agreement now and people who were angry at anyone who suggested that we shouldn't sign the thing back then.

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Re: "some 2 person Luxembourgian office"

To be honest, I've no problem being in a Maastricht treaty style agreement with countries with similar taxation policies. Being in one with countries whose economic existence is based upon them being tax havens is batshit insane though. These principalities need to exit the EU, and countries like Ireland need to stop offering stupid tax incentives to multi-nationals.

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Re: Agree with most comments here...

> Sorry, Amazon does not pay the UK Govt any VAT whatsoever, that money is paid by consumers as a tax on all goods that they choose to procure from Amazon.

I think you'll find that everything Amazon pays ultimately comes from the customer.

Your differentiations are accounting in nature only.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Agree with most comments here...

But how much profit did they make. Amazon somewhat notoriously makes almost zero profit world wide on its operations and has for years. There's bugger all to tax.

All I see here is a load of greedy bastards all moaning that "Amazon don't pay their fair share" whereas each and everyone of you pays no more tax than you can get away with, never voluntarily pay more even though you could. It's the od "I want things that someone else pays for" moan. Get a life fucktards.

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Re: "some 2 person Luxembourgian office"

Why shouldn't nations be allowed to compete on tax? Ireland, you may have noticed, had some rather serious economic differences recently. Being able to persuade multinationals such as Apple to pass their taxable profits through their country instead of someone else's has been a huge benefit to Ireland in a time of real need.

You can't have it both ways. If paying "too little" tax is as immoral as Hodge says it is, then surely that goes for every tax jurisdiction. How can it be moral to pay more tax to the UK but also moral to pay less tax to Ireland or Luxembourg?

And the same applies to tax havens like the Caymans, which our lords and masters have quite appallingly decided to crack down on. We compete with the rest of the world in all sorts of ways -- the City of London, for instance, is still one of the best places to conduct finance, and the UK's legal framework is designed to ensure it stays so, attracting billions of pounds into the country, which we then tax. Paris and Frankfurt and Chicago are free to change their own financial regulations or tax policies or whatever to try and compete with London, and no-one suggests there's anything wrong with that. Countries compete to attract academic money, finance money, semiconductor money, mining money, and quite right too. But if some jumped-up little country competes with the established players on tax, we declare it's "immoral" and try to use threat of military might to intimidate them into stopping competing, all while declaring that we're the good guys. What I would love to see is for a tax haven to place an advert on British or American television, showing the roads, hospitals, schools, bridges, water-treatment plants, and public health programmes that they're able to build using the money they get by taxing the companies whose bank accounts they host. Bypass the useless diplomatic debates and make the point straight to the public. I suspect such a campaign could work wonders on public opinion.

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I have now stopped buying from Amazon. The final nail in the Amazon coffin was the Panorama broadcast on how they treated their staff which, needless to say, is not very well. Stuff 'em I thought.

What Amazon does have is a superb business model, it's fast, efficient and apparently very friendly and well run. However what it not is, is cheap; it gives the general impression of cheapness in much the same way as supermarkets do but when you start delving and cross price checking most items can be found cheaper elsewhere. Where it does win is on convenience and reliability - but what price my conscience? Amazon will no longer be on my list, which is a pain.

If and when our Beloved Leaders sort out the tax question and Amazon, along with Google, Starbucks, Vodaphone etc, I may just return as a customer. For me, it's a moral stand but to make the principle work, it's going to need a whole lot of extra effort from everyone.

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>I have now stopped buying from Amazon. The final nail in the Amazon coffin was the

>Panorama broadcast on how they treated their staff which, needless to say, is not very well.

Same here. I'd been trying to avoid Amazon for a couple of years, as I'm pretty uncomfortable with their near monopoly position in some places, but the tax thing, followed by zero-hours contracts, followed by the Panorama broadcast has made me resolve to always find alternative suppliers.

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Panorama...

The only thing the panorama broadcast showed me is how seemingly workshy and ignorant young BBC reporters actually are. Zero hour contracts? they're great - I've been on them. It means you get to choose your work-life balance - and provided there is work available (which there inevitably is) then you can put in extra hours and earn extra cash. When you want to go on holiday, you don't have to turn up at work, because you aren't contractually obliged to. You behave like a full time employee, you'll keep your job. And if there isn't work, you go and find somewhere else to work - who the hell owes you a living, anyway?

As for the whole "picker" role - yeah, that's what these warehouse distributors have to do to get their stuff out on time. You're walking 11 miles a day - so what? so does everyone who stands up for a living. They buy comfortable shoes and don't spend so much money on unused gym membership. Treated like a machine? yeah, course you are, just like everything else on a production line, distribution network, whatever. You do your time, then you hang up your apron and leave your problems at work. It's mindless, but it pays the bills. Get over it. I worked in a supermarket - it's no different, except I had to get cold every 5 minutes in the walk-in freezers to get stock to fufil demand.

And as for tax, rather than MPs whine about how immoral it is, why don't they change the law - surely that's WHAT THEY DO, isn't it? Personally I'm of the opinion that corporation taxes are rather silly, and amount to double taxation. What money they make is either passed to consumers, who pay VAT, their employees, who pay income tax, or their shareholders, who pay income tax on dividends and capital gains tax on share price increases. It's a business - there is no further place for it to go, and as all routes are taxed, why do we need to tax their profits too? Maybe I'm missing something here, but even if a company just hoardes cash in an offshore subsiduary, it's not doing anything good there and sooner or later it'll become part of the tax-a-go-round again anyway as shareholders demand it to be used to gain them further value.

Globalisation is here to stay. The sooner our government accept this the better. As a result, my shopping will be done almost exclusively at amazon and other online stores this Christmas, and if that pisses off some MPs, all the better.

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Re: Panorama...

@brenda mcviking

Quite possibly the most intelligent thing I've read on the internet in years. Kudos!

We may, or may not, argue for years over our preferred levels of taxation, but taxing cash at the precise point it is still a communal benefit for many (ct, ni) is stupid. Tax it at the exits: at the point it could buy a Ferrari, not at the point it could recruit someone out of welfare. And if it isn't used, it just builds up a huge tax bonus for the revenue in future (as a cynical aside there is some merit in holding state wealth in ways that politicians are not at immediate at liberty to spend).

And for anyone assuming that Amazon is doing so well solely on account of tax avoidance would do well to compare prices. Ct is around 20-25% in the higher tax parts of the EU. Amazon's prices are often half that of their British competitors, their service is better and delivery faster. Even taking tax out of the equation they would still be enormously cheaper. On that basis it is extremely hard to argue that the consumer is not benefitting disproportionately, but it is also clear that tax is a surprisingly small part of the equation.

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WTF?

Sort your own mess out first..

"£2.4m in corporate taxes in the UK last year, despite the fact that its sales were £4.3bn and it got as much as £2.5m in government grants to expand its warehouse operations in Scotland."

Maybe MPs should take some of their own medicine, why give a company £2.5m in grants when it makes £4.3bn in sales?? How many votes does that buy, or is the benefit realisation a seat on the board in a few years time?

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